Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Fear and living dangerously

Work’s been busy – more so than in the past five (ish) years.

Which is a very good thing, but it’s been so dry for so long that all of us are working ourselves to a shell of what we could be had we paid attention in class.

Six hour turnaround? Sure, no problem.

Four am call two hours away? I’m there.

Three 19 hour days in a row? I love overtime. My kids don’t need me to read them a story.

In the past two months, I’ve worked as many hours as I had in the previous year (or so it feels like), and I’ve had some insanely short turnarounds – I went from one job right to another and my justification was that since I was in the condor for the first job, I could sleep.

One sleeps fitfully, at best, in a condor, so I had a few hours of shallow napping, took a shower, changed my clothes, and then worked another 14 hour day.

That, my friends, is madness, and I shouldn’t have done it as I was not able to work safely.

But I’m afraid to say no to anything.

It’s been so slow for so long and so many of us have been struggling, that we can’t really wrap our minds around the idea that it may be busy for quite some time and we can, if we like, turn down a job if we feel that we’ve just had a bit too much that week. It’ll be okay. There will be more work.

But that small part of my mind that functions as the town crier for impending disasters starts shrieking that this will be the last day I get for a long time, I won’t make my rent, and then I’ll end up face down in the gutter covered in my own filth and broken dreams.

For some reason, I believe that alarmist voice much more than I believe our call steward, who seems to think that there will be a lot of work for the next few years, at least.

I need to work on that. I’d love to be able to take a vacation and know that I’ll still have work when I come back.

That hasn’t happened in years.

For any of us.

Filed under: hazardous, humor, life in LA, locations, long long drives, Los Angeles, , , ,

There’s a first time for everything

I’m not an actor, nor have I ever had  any actorish aspirations.

But yesterday on one of the swim groups, someone posted a casting call that I just couldn’t pass up.

A female swimmer, mid 30s to mid 40s, proficient in all four strokes and comfortable swimming in the ocean.

The last part was strenuously emphasized – COMFORTABLE SWIMMING IN THE OCEAN !!!!! – so I’m guessing they’ve had some issues with people telling them “sure, no problem” and then freaking out when they dropped them off the boat. Or dock, or whatever.

Luckily, I’m not afraid of the terrors that lurk in the briny deep because, I suspect, I’m not smart enough to have ever developed even a modicum of common sense.*

I figured I’d email the casting lady just for a laugh. I gave her my swimming background, sent a few pictures, and figured that I’d hear nothing back from her.

She emailed me within 10 minutes, and informed me that my ‘look’ was acceptable (whew. I was worried there for a second), and that I’d have to come in and audition.

I started to lose interest, and then I read the numbers.

For two days, they’ll pay more than I usually make in a 60 hour week. And I don’t have to be SAG because of some reason. I think because there are no lines. Just swimming.

So, I agreed to go on my first-ever audition.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I would imagine that if swimming skills were so critical they’d hold said audition in the water. Seems like it would be the sensible thing to do. “Hey, come out to the beach. Now dive through the waves and swim to that kayak out there. Mind the stingrays.”

But no. My audition was in a Hollywood casting office, where I stood in front of a video camera, did a few pushups (don’t ask me why, I don’t know) and then mimicked swim strokes for whichever deity will be making the choice. Plus, I threw in a story about the time I got stung by a jellyfish because I thought it was a plastic bag and grabbed it to clean up the ocean.

Serves me right. Not just the jellyfish, the whole fucking thing.

Everyone was really nice, but the experience was really surreal. The office is this big corral with smaller rooms off the sides. All the supplicants sit in center on uncomfortable chairs, making small talk as they wait to be called into their particular inner sanctum.

The walls are white, there are signs everywhere warning that one must mind one’s meter, and coffee is not complimentary.

Did you ever see Brazil? It’s kind of like that.

Looking around our little group, it was very easy to see who had come from the swim group and who was a professional actor.

The swimmers had broader shoulders, more sun damage, more bruises, and worse hair. Oh, our hair was terrible. I’m surprised we weren’t immediately escorted off the premises.

I do not expect I’ll get a callback.

*Although there is that one kelp mat off Venice Beach that scares the shit out of me every time I swim over it. It’s just deep enough to see the shadow, but not make out any detail.

Filed under: humor, life in LA, Los Angeles, , , , , , , ,

Hooray! A computer!

After a return and about 15 angry emails, I now have a semi-working computer, which is great.

This one came with a bad SATA cable, but I yanked a good one out of the old machine and it’s fine.

It’s going to have to be fine.  I can’t deal with another return. I’ll murder someone.

What’s also great is that I’ve got a show. Not day playing on a show, but full-time on a show that’s running for 9 weeks.

It’ll take me through Thanksgiving, and it’s shooting at Sony, which is close to my apartment – not as close as Fox, but still under half an hour in the car and once it cools off I’ll be able to bike to work in about 40 minutes.


Since I’m going to be at the same lot for nine weeks, I decided to splurge and join the on-lot gym as it’s right there and instead of going to my gym and then driving back to work I can just show up early, work out and then go hit crafty (hey, I deserve it. I worked out). Also, being able to take a shower after a bike ride to work is awesome.

There’s been this big thing with the studios of going ‘green’ – not allowing bottled water on sets, replacing lawns with fake grass, etc… but not one of them have set ups for bike commuters (lockers and showers), which seems to me would be pretty fucking green.

Guess they can’t get tax credits for having non-smelly bike commuters.

So after work today I waltzed over to the gym, credit card in hand, ready to sign up and work out.

Turns out, it doesn’t work like that.

One has to leave one’s email at the front desk with one’s name, show, guild or union affiliation, and email.

Then, after checking out your (probably bullshit, you sweaty fucking liar) story, someone will contact you and inform you of their decision.

In my case, the powers-that-be have deigned to allow me access.


Before I can go and work out, though, I must fill out a questionnaire, about my medical history, my family’s medical history, my workout history and general fat-assedness, and my primary care physician’s contact information.


That one made me blink.

Begin? Begin?

Not to give away my age here, but I began a workout program when leg warmers and butt floss were acceptable gym-wear.

Except for the occasional surgery or distant location, I’ve never stopped working out.

I’ve never stopped riding my bike whenever possible.

I’ve never stopped trying to swim the stress away.

I’ve never stopped working out my problems by lifting weights.

So I have to decide if I want to attach a snarky letter to my application or let them call my doctor and let him be snarky.

I think I should let him be snarky. He so rarely gets the chance.



Filed under: cranky, humor, life in LA, movies, overspending, rants, studio lots, Work, , , , , , ,

Computerless for what seems like an eternity.

Call me a Luddite, but I love my desktop.

There’s something…civilized about sitting at a desk and writing. Nice big monitor, upright posture, movable keyboard (in case one’s posture becomes less upright), desk lamp (no green shade, though), space for the cat, no sore thumbs or cooked lap.

A little over a week ago, my elderly desktop finally died.

It’s been coming for a while. It got slower and slower, had to think about things longer and longer, and eventually became unable to play internet cat videos, which we all know spells doom.

So, I backed up my data (learned that lesson the hard way), and started browsing eBay for another tower.

The new tower got here the day the old computer died.

So I started to hook up the new tower and then noticed something odd about the monitor output. It was white, not blue, and had extra pins.

Great. More fuckery.

A friend lent me DVI-D monitor, and I turned on the new computer expecting blazing fast cat videos and… nothing.

Not even a peep. Not even BIOS. I tried opening the tower and checking the connections, I tried a different monitor, I tried screaming, I tried threats. Nothing.

So the new tower is DOA – which, I suppose isn’t a surprise given they shipped it parcel post wrapped in one layer of bubble wrap and no ‘fragile’ sticker.

I have a smart phone, but I hate trying to write more than one paragraph on it – the whole picking out letters on the tiny digital keyboard makes me want to find the cutest puppy in the entire world and kick the ever-loving crap out of it.

I now have a newer, much more expensive computer (with a warranty from a higher-rated seller) in transit, but it won’t be here until Monday and that’s the day I’m starting a new show – at a lot close enough to the house to bike!

So hopefully I’ll be back online before too much more time passes, and too many more puppies get kicked.

Filed under: computer, cranky, humor, mishaps, Non-Work, Off-Topic, rants, , , , , ,

I’m feeling much better now.

About 10 days ago, my doctor put me on a new medication for my blood pressure, which, due to my parents’ apparent genetic inferiority, is high.

Really high, despite the former medication – during a check-up the doctor started muttering about a stroke and wrote me a new prescription.

I was told that there would be an adjustment period of  ‘a few days’ where I might not feel so well.

During this ‘few’ days, I accomplished the following:

Smashed in the fender of my car trying to back out of my parking space.

Stepped on the cat.

Got lost while swimming. In a pool.

Forgot my own phone number.

Spent half an hour arguing with a cardboard cutout of Austin Powers*

Also, I apparently did some online shopping, as I’m getting packages from eBay that I don’t remember buying. So far, I’ve been too afraid to open any of them.

I’m not sure I want a peek through that window into my psyche.

It was all the bad parts about being really, really drunk with none of the social acceptance. Or drinking.

A week and a half later, I’m finally semi adjusted – meaning the world has stopped being so annoyingly spinny and I can think again.

Except that one of the side effects of this medication is heat intolerance, which, despite my trying to explain my job to my doctor (outside. all day. no breeze. cable. burning sun. pants), just resulted in him advising me to not get dehydrated.

Which is fine – hydration is awesome – but it’s currently hotter than chicken fried ass here in Los Angeles and no matter how much water I drink I still get light-headed, red, and blotchy when I go outside and think about doing anything more strenuous than breathing.

It’s dead right now so I can keep my tomato-colored face inside, but this is going to be a problem in a couple of months – especially since ‘red and blotchy’ progresses through ‘light-headed’ to ‘involuntarily horizontal’ fairly quickly.

Since I can’t imagine that being too terribly popular at work, I have to discuss options with the doctor.

Hopefully, this won’t result in my being put on yet another medication requiring an adjustment.



*That one’s an exaggeration. It was more like 10 minutes.

Filed under: humor, mishaps, Non-Work, , , ,

What is it with me and fingers?

I need my hands to do my job. So one would imagine I’d be extra careful, but still it’s the body part I manage to mash and smash more than any other.

After waiting a week to get in the ocean after Los Angeles’ torrential skywater catastrophe, some friends and I decided to go for a swim. Our usual spot in Santa Monica wasn’t an option as it was parking for the LA Marathon – and near the street closures – so we went a bit south to Venice beach, thinking that we’d have an easier time with traffic and parking.

Which worked out very well. Plenty of parking, light traffic for those who drove (I rode my bike as I had to traverse the most congested part of Santa Monica to get to the beach).

And then we approached the water, and came face to face with 6 foot waves.

I’m not particularly fearful of the ocean once I get past the surf (if something gets me, it gets me. C’est la vie), but I get a little nervous in surf much higher than my head.

Okay, that’s an understatement. Any waves bigger than about three feet and I’m a panicky idiot who needs supervision to ensure I won’t do anything stupid.

Needless to say, I didn’t get past the surf, and the one swimmer who did had to come back because it took so long to get my heart rate down from ‘coked out hummingbird’ that we ran out of time.

I would have hung my head in shame, but my neck was too sore from getting tossed in the surf.

So, with my proverbial tail between my legs, I slunk off to breakfast and then decided, last-minute, to try to get some sort of workout in and make a yoga class at the gym.

As I was rushing out of the house and using my foot to keep the cat from running outside, I pulled the door shut and didn’t move my finger quite quickly enough.

So it got slammed in the door.

If you’ve never done this, I can assure you it’s excruciatingly painful.

After screaming a few choice words, I looked at said finger and saw the nail turning black.

I’m told that’s bad. There are numerous tutorials on the internet to deal with this in the comfort of your home, but since I am lucky enough to still have insurance, I can go have a doctor do that for me, for only the cost of a very pricey night out.

So instead of going to a yoga class, I went to urgent care.

Where the very nice doctor numbed up my finger (FOUR shots in the nerves) and drilled a hole through the nail to let the blood out.

If you’ve never had a doctor drill (actually, it’s a burn. They BURN a hole though the nail. The smell is… unfortunate. I may never eat again) into your nail, I can assure you it’s really gross and also – take the ‘digital block‘ option. You do NOT want the doctor burning through your fingernail with no pain meds. Trust me.

So now I have a hole in my fingernail. Surprisingly, it’s not that painful. It’s just gross, as we’re over 24 hours on and it’s still bleeding.


Although I think the post-burning photo of the fingernail gushing blood is funny, I’ll be nice and post a photo taken today – the grossest thing about it now is how badly I need a manicure.

2014-03-10 18.39.38

Right now, it’s a pathetic excuse for pilot season here in Los Angeles, so although it’s busy, a day off isn’t a bad thing.

I’ll make work calls tomorrow.

Filed under: humor, life in LA, Los Angeles, mishaps, Non-Work, Off-Topic, Photos, , , , , , , ,

It’s that time of year again!

Time for the sort-of annual W-2 (and 1099) competition.

The person with the most W-2 and 1099 forms (or your country’s equivalent) will win this super fabulous bottle of Weight Loss Elixir ™ given to a hapless crew as either a wrap gift or a practical joke. No one’s quite sure which.


That’s right. Elixir, in Italics – the action typeface. Plus, the pink label makes you burn more calories so drink up, you fat fucks.


Organic Liaison sounds vaguely dirty. Like the Coast Guard getting nasty on the comms with the Army. No preservatives though. It’s an organic liaison.

Leave the number of forms you got in the comments and the person with the most wins it!

Filed under: humor, Photos, Work, , , , , , , , , , ,

It’s resolution time!

No, not mine.

At this stage of my life, I’ve given up all hope of self-improvement and am just aiming for remembering to brush my teeth.

No, no.. it’s that time of year when folks make a resolution to get in shape and descend on the gym like a horde of sweaty, confused locusts.

While I certainly want to encourage people to exercise, this time of year can be unpleasant for those of us who have become accustomed to the less-populated gym of the off months.

I realize it’s not possible for the staff to walk everyone through the basics of gym citizenship, so here’s a few points directed at the resolution crowd:

1. Re-rack your weights. For fuck’s sake – do you think those dumbbells are going to grow eyes and legs and show themselves back to the rack? Of course you don’t. Fucking pick them up and put them back. If I trip over them I’ll tie your shoelaces together while you’re sitting on a bench chatting.

2. Speaking of which, if you’re not actively using something, don’t fucking sit on it. It’s not your private garage fitness room, it’s a space you have to share with several hundred of your new best friends. Normally, I’d say watch the bodybuilders and do what they do, but those bastards plant their asses and proceed to gossip like fishwives, so in this regard, ignore them and keep the long involved conversations to the juice bar or the couches in the lounge area.

3. You might think that eau de mouffette dans un jardin smells divine. You might want to douse yourself with three bottles of it before you work out just to share. Please don’t.  This goes double and triple for the pool and the steam room. Do, however, feel free to liberally apply deodorant. Please, for the love of all that’s fucking holy, liberally apply deodorant.

4. Wipe your sweat off of the equipment. You’re carrying that towel around for a reason – it’s certainly not a fashion statement. If I have to scrub something down before I can use it, I’m going to find you and bill you.

5. The cardio areas and the pool get very, very crowded. Please, if you see people waiting, keep it to a half an hour. I know, I know. No one likes to have to get off the treadmill or out of the pool after only half an hour (personally, I hate it), but remember we’re sharing space here. If you stick it out, the gym will eventually be less crowded and you’ll be able to stay on for the full hour (or even more!)

6. Speaking of the pool, at various times of the day classes will reserve lanes. Although this particular gym has a masters swim program (and we’re pretty mellow), mostly they’re aqua exercise classes populated by sweet little old ladies who will gut you like a trout if you don’t get out of that lane three seconds ago. You’ve been warned.

7. If you don’t know how to use something, ask. One of the trainers will help you, or if you can’t find them, another gym member will be more than happy to walk you through how to properly use the kegelnator.

8. Please be nice to the locker room attendants. They’re very nice ladies (gentlemen on the guys’ side) and have to clean a bathroom all day, every day. Think about that before you scream at them.

9. This particular gym provides towels. It’s a very nice amenity, and we’d like the gym to continue to provide it and not decide it’s too much of a pain in the ass to bother with. So pick them up and place them in the hamper when you’re done with them. They’ll be happy to be with their friends.

10. Gentlemen, if you’re rocking those 70’s style running shorts, please wear an athletic supporter underneath. Sit ups and unsupported junk in tiny shorts is something I can’t unsee no matter how much I drink.

Happy New Year and have a great workout!

Filed under: cranky, humor, life in LA, Non-Work, Off-Topic, , , , , ,

Retro(ish) Friday Photo

From the Flickr archives:

Fake blood dispenser

What’s the best way to drip fake blood (corn syrup and food coloring) over a set? Why, with a repurposed ‘maple’ syrup dispenser which once held a product also made from corn syrup and food coloring.

The fake blood is harmless, but very, very sticky. And nearly impossible to get out of your hair.

How do I know this?

Please enjoy a bonus photo from back in the days before digital, when we used Polaroids:



That, my friends, is a largish puddle of fake blood from a low-budget horror movie which, to the best of my knowledge, was never released.

There was so much blood that we had to clean the cable before we sent it back to the lamp dock – since production wouldn’t pay for a pressure washer, we had to use a kiddie pool. We wrapped the syrup covered cable, then dropped the coils into the kiddie pool and scrubbed.

By the end of the day I looked like a serial killer, my hair was sticky and matted with fake blood and although I had no groceries I was afraid to stop anywhere on the way home.

The place in the back of the car where I dumped the wet clothes for the drive home was stained red until I got rid of the car.

Filed under: humor, Photos, Work, , , , , , ,

You can never find one when you want one

My garden, while only about a mile from where I used to live, is currently 8 miles away.

Interestingly, it takes the exact same amount of time to drive as it does to bike, and since the bike doesn’t burn $4 a gallon gas I usually prefer to ride than drive.

But lately I’ve had this shoulder issue, and it seems to cycle (no pun intended) between ‘getting better’ and  ‘won’t this thing ever stop fucking hurting’.

Today’s physical therapy appointment wasn’t until noon, and since I’ve been in a ‘getting better’ phase, I decided to bike instead of drive. Hey, I’m unemployed and gas is expensive (for the US).

So I hopped on the bike and headed out. I swear I behaved – I didn’t lean on the handlebars and I stayed off of the drops. I got to the garden fine – no pain and I felt really good. I dumped my veggie scraps into my compost bin, watered the seedlings (leeks, rutabegas, parsnips, beets and celery that looks like it’s not going to come up), admired the out-of-control fava beans (looks like I’m in for another 50 lb harvest from my tiny plot), and weeded for a few minutes.

I then headed out as I needed to be at the PT place.

About a mile into the return trip, I started hurting. Bad.

I then, for the first time in my life, decided to do the sensible thing and catch a bus back home.

I found a bus stop and sat. And sat, and sat and sat.

With the clock ticking (can’t be late, don’t want to anger tiny Asian woman who is torturing me), I decided that I couldn’t wait any longer and started riding, figuring eventually a bus would catch up to me and then I could give my poor shoulder some rest.

Except no bus came. I kept looking over my shoulder, hoping I’d see something – anything. Any bus would do.

Nope. Nothing.

Normally, when I’m biking, I have to avoid being flattened by a bus approximately every five minutes, so the complete lack of buses just when I really needed one was maddening.

Every time I looked back and didn’t see a bus, I’d let loose with a torrent of language that would likely shock a sailor. At one traffic light, a police car pulled up beside me, and the nice officer asked me what the problem was.

“I’m hurting and need to catch a bus, but now I can’t find one.”

“So.. they’re just like cops, then?”

Yes, indeed. Just like cops. Only not on a frantic manhunt which involves several innocent drivers getting shot up.

I finally saw a bus two block from my apartment.


Filed under: cranky, humor, life in LA, Los Angeles, mishaps, Non-Work, , , , , , , , , , ,

November 2015
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